Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
Rosh Hashanah: Holiday For Mankind
Now that we’ve finished the study of
the story of CREATION and the Garden of Eden,
Let’s study the annual holiday of Adam’s Birthday,
the Rosh Hashanah, which is based on Genesis Chapters 1-3.
This unique holiday, that has no parallel
in any culture or another religion on Earth
Is a holiday for all Mankind, Jewish and non-Jewish alike,
Which is celebrated once a year, as a New Year High Holiday,
one of the most important holidays of the year
On one hand, it is a joyful celebration, ordained by the Torah
where work is forbidden, and families get together for happy meals
exchanging blessings and more.
Yet, on the other hand, it is a solemn day of Judgement
for the entire world, including Mankind.
Why is this holiday dedicated for Universal Judgement?
The answer: it is based on the Torah’s message in Chapter One, verse one,
that says : The world was created by ELKM, the Attribute of JUSTICE
To withstand judgment.
What judgment, exactly?
Moses tells us about it in details.
He says, that at the end of Chapter One – the end of the Sixth Day,
ELKM will judge “Everything that He had done,” including Adam, us,
to see whether or not the Universe has become not just good
but rather Very Good
Since the Universe can’t elevate itself to become Very Good,
It is up to Adam to achieve that goal
Indeed, when ELKM said “Let Us Make Adam in our Form and Our Image”
He had an “Image and Form” of an ideal Adam on His mind,
Ttat Adam should aspire to become, in history.
To be Very Good,
Adam should abide by ELKM’s Laws
And gradually change his heart, by accepting into his heart
the Attribute of Mercy, YHVH and Her values
This is the reason why Adam’s birthday
Is associated with Universal Judgment
Including the Judgment of Adam
Let’s return now to our last class.
As Adam and Eve came down from Eden to live on Earth
they began a long historical Journey towards the End of the Sixth Day
– when humanity is expected to excel and become Very Good
in the Heavenly Court’s eyes, where the HC is comprised
of both Attributes, ELKM and YHVH.
And ever since Adam and Eve came down to Earth,
Once a year, every year, on Adam’s birthday,
The Heavenly Court of YHVH and ELKM would judge
the entire CREATION, “everything that He had done,”
to see where we all stand in our journey towards a better future.
Asa our prayer book for the holiday says, on that awesome day,
all creatures pass by YHVH ELHM’s Throne, as He, in Oneness,
examines each and every one, to decide its fate for the next year.
It is also said in the prayer book, that on Rosh Hashanah
three “Books of Life” open themselves before the HC
and their content is self-read to the Court, naming each one of us
The Righteous ones are immediately prescribed for life
The Wicked ones are immediately prescribed for death
And those who are neither righteous nor wicked,
Which most of us are,
are given a chance to repent and correct their status
The rabbis identified three major themes for the Holiday
expressed in our prayer books. They are:
2 Blowing the ram horn
3 Kingship of G-d
Let’s discuss these themes one by oone
The first major theme of the holiday, Remembrances,
expresses the notion that ELKM remembers on Rosh Hashanah
each and every creature in the world, small or large,
from the tiniest mosquito to Mankind, deciding their fate for the next year.
Hence the important message that we are never alone in this world.
Our thoughts, and our deeds, are carefully recorded in the Books of Life
And G-d, YHVH ELKM, remembers each one of us, hear what the books say,
weights our sins against our merits on His Scale, and judges us accordingly
The rabbis selected from the Bible “10 verses of Remembrances”
that describe how G-d remembers us for good, to be recited in our prayer
Thus, on this day in the past,
ELKM remembered Noah in the Ark, and saved him from the Flood
He also remembered Sarah at age 90 years
And blessed her with a child – Isaac
He also remembered Joseph in jail
and raised him to rule Egypt
He also remembered baren Hannah and
Blessed her with the child – who became the prophet Samuel
And there is another, second theme of the holiday
2 Blowing the Ram horn
In addition to the theme of Remembrance
The rabbis identified a Second Theme – Blowing the Ram Horn – shofar
The Shofar is blown for several purposes:
A: to remind G-d the binding of Isaac,
And his dedication to G-d
B: to break our hearts in repentance
By the horns’ broken voices
C: We blow the ram horn to designate YHVH’s Kingship
As we are about to explain
And like in the theme of Remembrances, the rabbis also
selected from the Bible 10 Verses speaking about blowing the Horn.
Thus, the horns were blown on Mt Sinai’s revelation,
And they were blown in Israel’s camp to designate
The beginning of a journey in the desert, so that
We too start the journey of the New Year with repentance.
Then the prayer book moves on to the Third Theme of the Holiday –
3: G-d’s Kingship
What is G-d’s Kingship, exactly?
We recall, that during the Six Days of CREATION,
ELKM ruled the Universe awesomely alone,
giving orders as a Dictator, consulting no one,
tolerating no sin or objection
Adam would not be able to endure for long
Living under the rule of such Awesome Dictator
So just before creating Adam, ELKM made a concession to Adam.
He descended from His high Pedestal as a sole, supreme Judge
And spoke in plural, consulting everyone in the Chapter,
Thereby becoming a benevolent King Who Consults.
This was a major concession to Adam,
Since such a benevolent King would be more tolerant to Adam’s sins.
Yet, to farther increase Adam’s chance to endure,
ELKM made a greater concession of His Power
And invited the Attribute of Mercy, YHVH,
to share with Him the new Heavenly Court.
Under this new Heavenly Court of YHVH and ELKM
Adam would have a better chance to win and become Very Goodc
Moreover, Adam could now become Very Good
by allowing YHVH to enter his heart and dwell in it,
and unite YHVH and ELKM in his life.
Hence, Chapter One recognizes three types of Kingships:
1 Of ELKM’s alone, during the Six Days,
2 Of YHVH ELKM, who rules over our world today,
3 Of YHVH alone, who rules the Eternal Sabbath of the future
How is this connected to blowing the horns?
The Torah ordained that on Rosh Hashanah,
the priests in the Holy Tempe blew-
Two silver trumpets, to designate ELKM’s ascent on His Throne of Kingship
One ram horn, to designate YHVH’s ascent on the Throne of Kingship.
The priests were careful to blow the trumpets and the horns together
To designate YHVH ELKM’s Oneness
Nowadays, when we have no Temple, we blow onlythe ram horn,
Yet we still recite the same ancient Psalm song that the Levite Choir
chanted along with the blowing of the trumpets and ram horn
Here is what that Psalm song says:
“All nations clap hands
Blow the (trumpets) for ELKM in the voice of jubilation
For YHVH is an awesome Supreme,
A great KING over the entire Earth”
“ELKM has ascended in the blowing of the (silver) trumpets
YHVH, in the blowing of the ram horn…”
In that Psalm, ELKM’s Name is repeated 7 times.
In addition, we repeat chanting the Psalm 7 times,
To designate Noah’s Seven Commandments
That constitute the base for the judgment of all mankind
As we blow the horn, we pray that soon, all Mankind would
accept YHVH ELKM’s Kingship and His intervention in our histroy
Then, to designate G-d’s Kingship, we also quat Moses who said:
Shma, Hear, Oh Israel,
YHVH, our ELKM
YHVH, is One
And we add: “Blessed is the honor of His Kingship Forever and Ever”
Here we announce first
the Kingship of YHVH our ELKM – in our days
then the Kingship of YHVH alone – in the future
Now, accepting G-d’s Kingship, implies
the rejection of the kingship of any idol on us
Hence we move on to another theme of Rosh Hashanah – o
4 The End of IDOLATRY
How is IDOLATRY connected
to the anniversary of Adam’s birthday? o
We recall, that when ELKM descended from Tyranny
and became a King Who Consults, by speaking in plural,
He also opened the door for idolaters
To think that we have more than One CREATOR.
How amazing it is that the same verse that describes the making of Adam,
And the Kingship of YHVH ELKM, the forming of the Heavenly Court,
Is the same verse that opens the option of IDOLATEY
Hence, Adam was born to withstand the challenge of IDOLATERY.
And the only remedy against worshipping idols to their kinds
Is to accept the Kingship of YHVH ELKM.
Moreover, according to Moses,
There is no option left for accepting no kingship of any entity.
It is either G-d, or an idol, Adam must choose.
If so, let Adam better chose the Kingship of the True CREATOR
The rabbis therefor added to the prayer book for the Holiday
10 verses from the Bible that describe YHVH ELKM’s Kingship
Then they added a prayer, that all people will throw way their idols
and worship only the One and only True G-d
Those are the major themes of Rosh Hashanah holiday
To be celebrated by all Mankind.
As we’ve just said, RH is a happy birthday of Adam,
That we celebrate by no work, and by family gathering and happy meals,
And by recalling how Adam was made and for what reason we are here.
Hence there is no repentance done on it.
But the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah
and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur,
are devoted for Repentance.
Who should repent?
As we’ve mentioned, the clearly righteous are written on RH to life,
The wicked ones too are written on RH to death
Hence the ones who are neither clearly righteous nor clearly wicked
still sand before the HC during the 10 days in repentance,
asking G-d to wipe out our sins and render us a good new year
And here we arrive at the theme of Repentanc
From where do we learn the option of Repentance?
As we remember,
Back in Eden, Adam and his wife ate the Tree of knowledge Good and Evil
Yet they were not readily punished.
Since the eating gave them awareness of YHVH and Her Forgiveness,
They became ashamed from their sin, which is the first step of repentance
Yet they hide and did not pursue it in full.
Then, as we remember, YHVH ELKM walked by them back and forth
To make them aware of what was still needed,
To come forwards, admit, and ask forgiveness.
Yet they failed to do so.
So YHVH ELKM then took the initiative and called Adam
“Adam, where are you? Come to me!”
Yet Adam and his wife failed to confess, failed to ask forgiveness
And instead blamed each other for the sin.
Therefore they were subsequently driven out of Eden.
Now we, on Earth, have learned that lesson
And we stand during the 10 days between RH and YK
in shame for our sins, and we confess, search for our sins,
and ask forgiveness.
And as back in Eden, we refer to G-d during these 10 days
as “Our FATHER, Our KING” – avinu malkeinu
We ask G-d to pardon our iniquities as
A Father showing compassion for his children
Because we are all His Children,
Or as a King who forgives his devout servants
For we are all His servants
Thus, we see how Rosh Hashanah High Holiday,
Which is Adam’s Birthday,
Is to be celebrated by all Mankind,
With no difference for “race” or nationality or “religion”.
It is a beautiful, most meaningful holiday where all Mankind
shows solidarity and brotherhood, when we all
remember our common past, and our common goal in history.
Can you find any other such Holiday? o